Traveling for some is leisure, for others a necessity. It becomes part of your lifestyle. It fuels your creativity, and it stimulates your senses. Also, it creates memories and personal connections. That’s how I feel when I traveled to Costa Rica; disconnected from my daily routine, invigorated! Discovering and learning from other cultures; their values and their customs, the way they see life. It expands my mind, and it widens my perspective. Full of expectations and excitement, my friend Carol and I planned a visit to Costa Rica, a country without an army, pristine beaches and exotic rainforests. Here my list of things to do. Follow my journey in a three days itinerary.
I flew to Liberia Airport (Guanacaste) from Houston, Texas. I arrived around 11:30 am; I recommend to get an early flight on the day to start discovering from day one. There are plenty of hotels around the airport like the Hilton Garden Inn Liberia Airport that offers a complimentary shuttle to/from the airport ( 6 minutes ride). Once you are settled at the hotel, you can ask the hotel staff for the closest “Soda.”; A small restaurant where you can eat authentic Costa Rican food at a very affordable price. While you’re there, try a Casado, a local plate for approx $3,500 Colones- US7 (rice, beans, meat, salad, and sweet plantains), or my favorite, Ceviche de Pescado ($4,000 col).
You can take a taxi to Liberia Center, about 15 minutes ride from the hotel and start to immerse in the Costa Rican culture, mingling with the locals. Once in Liberia, you can visit the Central Park, the Guanacaste Museum. Also, Casa de Vico is fascinating to visit. It is a building plastered with newspaper clippings, used by the locals as a medium to express themselves. Other landmarks include Hacienda La Cachara, the Government Building, and La Ermita Church.
A second option would be to visit the nearby beaches which Costa Rica is well known for. About 30 minutes West of Liberia, you can jump on the beaches surrounding the Gulf of Papagayo; Playa Hermosa, Playa del Coco, Playa Flamingo (1 hour 30 mins) and Playa Ocotal (50 mins). Be ready to stay and enjoy a magnificent sunset. I stayed in Tamarindo, a beach town on the Pacific coast.
A visit to Costa Rica is not complete without taking a bath in one of the several hot springs. It is therapeutic and relaxing! In the Guanacaste area, you can find several options to pick from, some of the most famous thermal waters are nearby Tenorio Volcano, Miravalles Volcano y Rincon De la Vieja National Park (pictured), fun year round, Cost US$70/day pass with meal included. You can arrange transportation to/from at your hotel.
The best way to learn when visiting a new destination is spending time with the locals. While exploring ask about their history, the best places to visit, restaurants recommendations…Ticos (people from Costa Rica) are very pleasant; they will be thrilled to share their tips with visitors.
You can include horseback riding, zip lining through the forest, hanging in bridges and volcanic mud bath, all at once. I booked all the activities through a tour company, and the hotel can help you to plan it or do your own research online, you will find plenty of options depending on your preference. I highly recommend visiting Buena Vista Lodge nearby El Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
For Day 3 you can plan a morning visit to Guatil, one of the villages in Guanacaste, and well known for its pottery Chorotega style, one of the main indigenous group in Costa Rica. Their craft Clay-Chorotega pottery has been passed from generation to generation over the past 3,000 years. It is a great opportunity to buy souvenirs. Daily tours from different agencies are offered to visit the town and learn more about their culture and arts. The cost is US119 including riverboat tour to Palo Verde National Park, but you can exclude the visit to the park if you are flying back the same day.
Costa Rica owns 5% of the world’s known 95,000 species. There are about 11,535 plant species, 905 types of birds, mammals, and 3.5 % of the world’s marines species that will delight you to watch throughout the territory. The rain season goes from May to November so plan your trip and dress accordingly to the season. Have fun discovering the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica!
Photo credit: Carol Dubon